Alli Czhacowski and her Spokane teammates are starting what could be a fashion trend locally and starting a much anticipated school year for the Lady Owls with a bang.
Spokane is 4-0 and each win has been against an opponent with a winning record. The Lady Owls swept defending SWCL champion Sparta 25-12, 25-12, 25-23 Tuesday and downed Marionville 25-23, 25-18, 22-25, 25-19 Thursday.
They have also beaten defending Class 1 state runner-up Miller and defending Class 1 District 8 champion School of the Ozarks.
“We're starting off strong,” said Czhacowski, a senior outside hitter. “Starting off like this will build us up. Our expectations were to come out strong like this. By the end of the year, we're expecting to be even more competitive and be playing a faster pace of volleyball.”
After reaching 21 wins last year, Spokane has set its sights higher.
“We're pushing for 30 wins, which I think is the school record,” setter/hitter Sydney Bryan said. "“We put in the work over the summer and we like to push each other every play every day.”
Coach Erin Mitchem, who was part of Spokane’s record-setting 2005 Class 1 Final Four team, likes what she’s seeing in her second season with this crop of players.
“It's a whole different team almost than last year,” Mitchem said. “Their volleyball IQ has picked up tremendously. They're transitioning faster, they're seeing the court better, they're moving and covering their teammates. They trust each other more and their team chemistry is better.”
Czhacowski points out the players are all on the same page in regard to staying motivated in their efforts to keep improving.
“It's important for all of us that we are demanding of winning and that we know what we're doing wrong when we don't win,” she said.
All the while, Spokane is showing off a rather unique look, with most of the players wearing pants.
“I feel like it started more with just the look of the pants,” Bryan said. “The more we've worn them, we have found it's easier to slide with them. Your legs don't get stuck (on the floor) when you're sweating.
“Pants are becoming more and more popular,” she added. “I believe it started with college players wearing them and now it's gone down to high schools.”
This could go down as one of the best school years Spokane’s girls have enjoyed in a variety of sports.
Spokane is seeking its first SWCL volleyball championship since 2013. The Lady Owls’ basketball team is on the rise and could be a strong contender for its first SWCL title since the 2016-17 season. The Lady Owls are strong each year in track and Bryan will be back for her senior year after making State last spring in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
“We have that sense of urgency and fire to win,” Mitchem said. “It runs throughout our school.”